Trade Show TalesBlog

Archive for the ‘Trade Show Exhibit Tips’ Category

Photos of Recent LED Fabric Lightboxes

October 10th, 2018 COMMENTS

Recent Trade Show Lightbox Trends

We sometimes forget (or simply don’t recognize) how quickly trends change on the trade show floor. LED Fabric Lightboxes have been around for 5-6 years. Crude versions with muddy low-resolution graphics and hinky lights a little longer.

2018 has become “The Unofficial Year of Lightboxes.” Probably 65% of the exhibits we ship have LED lights — in a tower, backwall, counter, accent, or stem light. It’s at the point where it’s almost jarring not to see a lightbox or LED lights on an exhibit. Not all all lightboxes are equal, but I’ll save that debate for another blog post. What is true is that the fabric, the printing, and the LED lights have gotten better, depending the source/supplier, BUT it pays to do your homework.

  • How new are the dye-sublimation printers? The technology is changing rapidly
  • Does the supplier actually dye-sublimate the image or do they print directly to the fabric (cheaper, more fragile, and wrinkles)?
  • Are the lights and transformers UL approved? 
  • What is the quality of the fabric? Think H & M vs. J. Jill as an clothing example. 

Below are some examples of recent SuperNova LED lightboxes, both purchase and rental. Sadly, LED lightboxes don’t photograph well with smartphones or point and shoot cameras. You see “hotspots,” and the colors are never as vibrant as with the naked eye. However, that won’t stop us from sharing. 🙂

-Mel White
mel@classicexhibits.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/melmwhite

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Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, hybrid, and custom exhibit solutions, including SuperNova LED Lightboxes. Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100 or www.classicexhibits.com.

An Interview with Jim Shelman, GM of Classic Rental Solutions

October 2nd, 2018 COMMENTS

Every week, Tim Patterson, a.k.a. Tradeshow Guy, conducts an interview on his Monday Morning Coffee video/audio broadcast. Sometimes it’s someone from the trade show community, but more often it’s an expert on various business topics. It’s my go-to stop every Monday morning. 

This week Tim interviewed our own Jim Shelman, the GM of Classic Rental Solutions. They chatted about rental trends, the evolving reasons to rent, and why purchase and rentals are not so different. The interview starts at 4:15. Enjoy! 

Visual Guide to Trade Show Success Infographic

October 1st, 2018 COMMENTS

I’m a sucker for a well-designed, informative Infographic. I appreciate the creative artistry and exhaustive research required for the infographic to be successful. Which is why the “Visual Guide to Trade Show Success” from US Event Management caught my attention. 

First, it’s beautifully designed. It’s cohesive yet each section is distinct and there’s a practical north/south flow. On top of that, the information is useful and logically arranged. I especially like the “Questions to Consider” which poses questions every exhibitor should ask themselves. 

Sixteen total tips. Click on the link to Download the Infographic. And our thanks to the folks at US Event Management for creating it. 

–Mel White
mel@classicexhibits.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/melmwhite

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Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, hybrid, and custom exhibit solutions, including SuperNova LED Lightboxes. Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100 or www.classicexhibits.com.

Here’s a Handy Drayage Calculator (and it’s FREE)

September 14th, 2018 COMMENTS

Material Handling/Drayage Calculator

Trade Show Material Handling CalculatorMention “drayage” or “material handling” to any exhibitor and it’s bound to start a conversation. And not always a pleasant one.

Over the years, I’ve learned that while the amount matters, it’s really the uncertainty that drives most exhibitors crazy. No one enjoys calling their company Controller to inform them that your company credit card was just maxed out… on Day 0 of the trade show.  

There are many ways to lower your drayage expense, such as shipping to the advanced warehouse and consolidating your freight (no small boxes or strapping items to a crate). That’s a conversation every exhibitor should have with their exhibit house or display provider. You can save a lot of money by tapping into the expert advice of an exhibit professional. 

So how do you predict your material handling expense? Use our handy Drayage Calculator. If you know the standard rate for the show, which can typically be found in your General Show Contractor forms and the weight of your shipment, enter those numbers into the calculator. Then determine if there will be any special handling charges and when you expect the freight to hit the dock (straight time or overtime). The calculator can give you a good estimate. 

It’s not foolproof, but it’s better than guessing, which is what most exhibitors do now. Give it a try. It’s free. Let us know if it prevented that ugly phone call with your Controller.

Clicking on the image will redirect you to the Drayage Calculator webpage. Be sure to bookmark it. 

Trade Show Material Handling Calculator (Drayage)  

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Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, hybrid, and custom exhibit solutions, including SuperNova LED Lightboxes. Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100 or www.classicexhibits.com.

 

The World of SEG (As I See It)

September 11th, 2018 2 COMMENTS

Guest Post by Dave Brown, Optima Graphics

When Neanderthals Walked the Earth

My first exposure to Silicone Edge Graphics (SEG) was in 2002. At the time, we (Optima) were using a foam/rubber gasket to finish fabric graphics. The gasket (similar to screen door material) was an aesthetic step forward from Velcro since it helped to remove ripples and waves in a fabric graphic, but it was not a viable long-term solution. In early 2003, Optima was approached by AIT. They were promoting an improved graphic attachment using a stretchy silicone material that could be tucked into a channel or systems groove on an engineered aluminum frame, like Octanorm or MODUL. I vaguely recall that they were selling frames as well, but don’t quote me on that.

During that same time frame, several truss suppliers were offering a “truss clip” option where an 18” section of aluminum channel would snap onto the individual truss rails. A magnet was sewn to the graphic, so it could be secured within the truss clip. There was nothing special about the magnet other than its dimensions were perfect for sewing it to the fabric and then tucking it into the truss clip. Functionally a shim. However, the magnet was impractical for shipping purposes.

With the ever-present desire to cut exhibit program costs, many “early adopter” exhibitors and exhibit houses were looking to fabric graphics as an option. Fabric or dye-sublimated textile graphics had two immediate advantages:  they reduced the overall weight of an exhibit and they could be folded for compact shipping. But the Velcro and truss clip option each had aesthetic and practical flaws.

The Rise of SEG

Entering 2005, Silicone Edge Graphics were moving more mainstream, and our very own Mary Mueller coined the term SEG. Heck, we even tried to trademark it, but the US Patent Office claimed it was too generic (but “three peat” could be trademarked. Hmmmm?). By mainstream, I mean that SEG was being incorporated into display hardware, wall-mounted frame solutions, and custom exhibits.

As time progressed, SEG became a true building material, and fabric now clads the exterior of exhibits in the same way Canyon Blue Formica or Tempo loop did in the early 90’s. Customers want their visual message and presence maximized in their exhibits, and as dye-sublimation has progressed so has the boundaries of SEG. It is not uncommon to see a single 10’ x 20’ SEG fabric graphic whether backlit or non-backlit that’s as stunning and real as a Lambda print. A handful of companies have incorporated machinery that will produce a single graphic that’s 15 ft. in width, and the industry has been the beneficiary of R&D from many different perspectives. For example:

  • Backlighting. At Optima, we have launched three different backlit materials in the last 11 months, and our suppliers keep sending us a steady stream of potential new materials to test.
  • Opacity. Fabric may have been great for packing and hanging, but prior to 2013, there were functionally no opaque options. The blocker game is over because numerous opaque options exist and are ideal for trade show graphics. Eliminating blockers reduces installation time and cost. We can all cheer for that!
  • Stretch / Pliability. Installing SEG is, good bad or indifferent, a bit of an art form. A material that stretches east – west vs. east-west and north-south is a big deal because the added pliability reduces the artistic install talent needed by the end client or hired labor. “I have done this a million times” does not perfectly translate to “You are really good at it.”
  • Wrinkles. Let’s not mince words, Wrinkles suck! I get it. Paying as much as $250 an hour for Sunday OT steaming is unappetizing to any exhibitor.Here’s a snippet from an actual conversation I had this spring, “Sorry I am late. My shirt was a mess from packing, so I had to touch it up with the iron.” Fast forward to, “We arrived at the booth and one of the graphics was all wrinkled, so we had to steam it. Why do we need to do that? We should not have to do this” Logically, you know that a shirt (piece of fabric) needs to be ironed to eliminate wrinkles, but a fabric graphic should be impervious to similar wear and tear. Trust me, the holy grail of dye-sub fabric graphics is a 100% wrinkle-free material. This is and has been a R&D priority for years.
  • Flame Retardant (FR). Optima and many other high-quality providers will not sell an SEG dye-sub fabric graphic that is not FR. However, the FR treatment can increase the wrinkle factor or wrinkle-ability. Selling a NON-FR fabric is just plain stupid. Can you imagine ALL the instances where exhibitors are informed that all their fabric graphics need to be removed because they are unable to supply a FR certificate, and/or the material fails an onsite test? That is the stuff of lawsuits. It’s not worth it. Yet, there are instances where low-cost providers take that risk without informing the customer.

The Future of SEG

If the key ingredient in SEG is simply the attachment element (various rubbery / reasonably stretchy / reasonably firm 2.3mm x 7mm x 1mm-ish strips), then the sky is the limit. We have already progressed through print clarity (print resolution, density, color gamut via equipment and print technology), textile opacity, textile transmissiveness (backlighting), and ideal size of material.

A Prediction:   LED incorporation into the textiles will progress from experimental to routine and full digital textile is only a few years away. Envision a wall frame with an SEG monitor installed at any size you want. A 10 x 20 inline that conveys your client’s dynamic message, creates and morphs from one environmental engagement to the next, and during breaks on the show floor – you can watch your favorite Family Guy, episode. AND the whole thing fits in a single airline shippable case.

It’s coming sooner than we all think.

Dave Brown
dsbrown@optimagfx.com

Dave Brown is the VP of Sales at Optima Graphics. We all know and love Dave, so a long, detailed bio isn’t really necessary. And, yes, we all have a memorable Dave Brown story.